Becoming Mohammed

Claudia Marinaro
And Many Others
The Pleasance Theatre

Philippa Carson, Nadia Lamin, Jack Hammett, and Jonah Fazel Credit: And Many Others
Nadia Lamin, Jack Hammett, Jonah Fazel and Philippa Carson Credit: And Many Others
Jack Hammett Credit: And Many Others

Sarah’s surprise visit to her brother Tom at the Rotterdam family home in Claudia Marinaro’s play Becoming Mohammed is unexpectedly difficult.

Tom is a red-bearded white man from a Dutch atheist family who hasn’t told his sister that nearly a year before he converted to Islam.

They haven’t seen each other for years but instead of welcoming her he explains that the visit is at a bad time because he is expecting guests.

It doesn’t take her long to work out the reasons for his awkwardness, and she is quick to cast doubt on his conversion.

“Did you become a Muslim for her?” she asks in reference to Aminah (Nadia Lamin), one of his guests whom he is seeing regularly but always chaperoned by her brother the amiable fast talking Musa (Jonah Fazel).

Tom insists that his conversion came before he even met Aminah, and after he had considered many other ideas that might help him make sense of the world. But why a Muslim, she responds, “even Scientology has got a better reputation.”

With the zeal of a convert, he has given up eating certain foods, listening to music, body building and keeping photographs. He is also keen to promote Islam and has changed his name to Mohammed. Even Aminah and Musa think that he should take a less enthusiastic approach. Musa constantly plays music and Aminah takes pictures.

This thoughtful, often amusing family drama takes us through the difficulties of two strong-minded individuals who have a very different view of Islam.

Sarah is fearful and suspicious of the religion. Even when she tentatively agrees to visit a mosque, she is thrown back by the idea of having to enter through a separate entrance from her brother and being asked to wear a scarf and coat to cover her body.

Tom is repeatedly irritated by his sister’s arguments and frustrated by others at the Mosque, who council him to “cool” the way he responds to the prejudices of the wider society.

When the Mosque is attacked with stones, he wants to chase the culprits. At the airport, he refuses to cooperate with an official who, upon defining him as a Muslim by the clothes he wears, wants to check his identity while ignoring others.

The play is a gentle and sensitive exploration of one family’s engagement with Islam. It is a consistently watchable performance with warm believable characters and a sympathetic depiction of Muslims.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna